Thursday, 26 June 2008
I’m back in the U.S. of A. Thank God! I’m Colorado with my friend John. We’re staying with his mom in a great house in the mountains outside of Boulder. We have views of mountains, deer, bears, and mountain lions*. We have an aerosol can of Bear Spray in the closet that sprays 50 feet at bears just in case they attack us.
When white people go to Colorado, from what I knew beforehand, they do one of two things: they go outside to go hunting or they go outside to go mountain-hiking/ biking/ skiing/ rafting/ kayaking/ snowshoeing/ yoga/ etc. On our first day in town, we went to a state park and went on a hike. This did not surprise me at all as it conformed to my preconceived ideas about what white people do in Colorado.
But imagine my surprise when I found I could add another item to the list of white-people-in-Colorado activities! If you are at all bored with hunting or mountain-activitying, you can participate in a DRUM & FIRE CIRCLE. At the park where I was hiking, I found the sign advertising this activity.
So what is a drum circle? Well, a short romp on Google can clarify that for you. But briefly stated, and according to the aforementioned poster, it’s an opportunity to, “Connect to nature through Music”.
The hippie kids in my high school were into these sometimes. You would see them through the window of the debate-team classroom in the field wearing alpaca sweaters and German comfort footwear. Some of them managed to coax their smooth blond hair into dreadlocks. Others wore necklaces made from marijuana.
The noise of the drum circle would waft in through the slightly-opened, suicide-proof window where one might be, say, preparing a contingency plan if the Neg team proposed nuclear war or coming up for an Ontologically-correct argument for supplying guerrillas with uranium. The chaotic beats and arhythms would remind you that there was a world outside of your alphabetized-by-brief filebox and the state debate championship; a world where your SAT score didn’t matter and “nature” was more than a mere threat to your new graphing calculator’s safety.
Anyway, I’m glad to know that white people have more than just two things to do in Colorado these days.
*If any were to walk by, that is. Which they haven’t done yet.
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
I’ve probably mentioned here before that I’m a Buddhist. But my trip to Los Angeles really shook some doubt into me! Why? It seems that the Buddhists lag far behind in the clever church-frontyard-sign competition. Mostly because Buddhists don’t have churches with frontyards in which to place pithy signs to recruit converts. And I am SOLD when I read a funny church sign, let me tell you.
I also want to mention, before you start doubting your own faiths after perusing my photographs, that during my descent to L.A.’s International Airport, I saw a huge, round building with the words “FAITH DOME” painted on the top. That was so cool! I’m definitely going to pay a visit to the Faith Dome before I finish my PhD. Good thing I have about seven to ten years in which to fulfil that goal!
Oh and by the way: when I was taking the first of these pictures, there was a nervous homeless guy who was ducking from view because he didn’t want to be in the picture with the sign. As if I wanted him in the picture anyway!!!
Friday, 20 June 2008
There’s one thing I can say that I honestly love about Los Angeles: the traffic. Most people complain about it, but the way I see it is that you actually have time to learn about people. Especially people who have bumper stickers and window decals.
I think bumper stickers are great: nothing sums up a person more than a “Honk if you love Jesus” sticker on his car. Or “One Day at a Time.” If you see that one, for instance, you know that this person is an alcoholic! Trust me! I love knowing that about people.
One thing I love to know is where a person went to college or if their kid is an honor student. It’s so important to share with people how smart you or your kid is. You never see a “Tri-County Community College” sticker. Why? Because that’s not impressive. You never have a car with “My kids are pretty average.” No wonder.
When I was in L.A., I was stuck in traffic on Santa Monica Boulevard. I read the stickers on a car in front of me and thought, “Boy! Now THAT’S a person I’d like to meet!” Why? First I was excited because the car was a BMW – a VERY expensive car. Very cool. Next, right in the middle of the back windshield – smartly placed right where you can’t miss it – was a “Yale” decal. All right!, I thought. Now THERE’S someone with intelligence and success in life. In case someone were to miss that decal, there was ANOTHER one to the left on the window that said, “Yale Law School.” That’s when I knew, “This is a great guy”. It was so considerate of him to take into account all those who might miss the first sticker by providing a second one.
I was sold. I was really ready to get out of my car and go shake the guy’s hand, see if he was not old, and perhaps ask if I could bear his high-IQed children. Just when I was putting my car into park, I saw the real humdinger: HIS LICENSE PLATE. It read, “YALE ESQ”. SO CLEVER! Who would have thought of such a coup but a Yale grad. I was so impressed that I was paralysed for a few moments.
Some people have photographed bald eagles, or horses, or the Loch Ness Monster. I photographed the triple-sealed Yale Car. It is with pride that I bring this image to the privileged lives and lucky screens of you, my faithful readers.
Wednesday, 18 June 2008
"Wait - was that Nicole Richie? … I’m sorry to interrupt your conversation on your pink Blackberry, but are you Nicole Richie? Oh I'm sorry - you looked like Nicole Richie!"
This is the conversation that I keep having with people ALL THE TIME here in L.A. (short for Los Angeles). I’m visiting here, scoping out my new “hometown”, and I keep running into people who look just like my friend* Nicole Richie. It’s crazy. I feel so bad for all these Nicole Richie look-alikes who must constantly be asked if they’re Nicole Richie.
I guess it’s not hard to be mistaken for Nicole Richie out here – I mean, just because you’re really skinny and wear big sunglasses and have blond hair doesn’t necessarily mean you’re Nicole Richie. It could just mean you live in L.A.
I myself often get mistaken for celebrities all the time – Tina Fey, Gilda Radner, Janine Garafaeefwojldalo. It’s tough, and sometimes just to save face for the other person, I will say, “Yes, that’s me” and pose in a picture or sign an autograph or something.
*maybe in the future!
Thursday, 12 June 2008
I re-entered the United States last week with great excitement: finally! I’d be back to a place where people speak English, use dollars, are sometimes black or Jewish, and don’t smoke.
I celebrated my return by visiting my favoUrite part of New York City – da Bronx. Don’t be fooled by its Dutch name: there’s nothing low-country about this particular borough except for its occasional swamp and its various prostitute-filled neighboUrhoods.
I had spent quite a bit of my early-twenties sleeping on the uptown and downtown five-train, so I felt nothing short of excitement when I found the perfect end seat, slid my bags’ straps around various elbows for safety, and leaned my head against the bars for a nice nap. There’s nothing like the newly-designed green-line trains for a good nap; London’s Underground, with all its “on-time” trains, accurate train count-down arrival clocks, and “safety”, has nothing in the way of comfortable napping.
As the train pulled up to the Grand Concourse, the first stop in the Bronx, I had just about dozed off when I heard the dreaded noise:
That crisp, self-satisfied noise could only mean one thing: Nail Clippers!
If there is one thing that I hate, it’s when people groom their nails on the subway. Since when is it acceptable to leave your blackened, half-moon droppings all over the seats and floors of public transportation? Also: there’s no way of accounting for the direction that they will fly in. Your nail could hit someone in the eye! Worse, it could hit me in the leg!
As if to encourage this behavior, many nail-clippers come with holes in them which are perfect for attaching them to YOUR KEY-CHAINS! (See photo for proof!) Why is this acceptable? I demand a recall!
To make matters worse, I have noticed that people use their Metrocards – the thin yellow swipey things that give you access to the subway and busses in New York City – to CLEAN THEIR NAILS!
So next time you visit New York, hoping – like me – to find the Utopia of Americans, don’t ride on the subway. Because it is there, more than anywhere else, where you will be exposed to the nastiest part of our American culture: our dirty toe-clippings.